Dear Diary….

“Dear Diary… it’s been a long time since I last wrote.”   I remember always writing this in my journals before trying to recall everything that had happened in the last 3 months so who would know .. my diary??  That’s nuts!  That sort of pressure would keep me from writing because I knew it would be a daunting task so I would procrastinate and procrastinate and that task would get harder and harder the longer I would wait.  When I really became a good journal-er of my life (is that word?) I gave up expectation of explaining every detail and just wrote what I needed to for myself with no pressure of length or narrative. I started carrying my journal with me so when I was out and about and wanted to leave notes for myself, had a minute of downtime, felt like doodling, posting a quote, or a fortune from a fortune cookie I could.  What I gave up was writing the epic tale of my life and focused on capturing the moments that make up the good and lets be honest, more often the bad parts.

Any artist will tell you that inspiration often comes more out of heartache than when life is picture perfect.  Maybe that’s why after a fantastic summer and fall of not writing I find myself back at this keyboard… when I’m feeling less than perfect. Months after my move and months after my last post I will stop procrastinating because I feel this pressure to catch everyone up and instead, just write.  My time not writing has been filled by having a fun summer, working three jobs: 2 breweries and MK,  more outside time than I’ve had in a long time, going to bed early and waking up earlier than ever before to get to the gym, losing my last winters weight, wine and more wine on patios with friends, lots and lots and lots of family time, starting piano lessons, meeting a really kind and interesting guy who always made me fancy pancakes in the morning and this amazing cuban coffee…. Nutella pancakes, cinnamon pancakes, banana fosters pancakes…even our first date was over pancakes and beer…. to this moment right now when I feel like life is going backwards.

I know it’s all for the greater picture but it may take me a week or two to get on board with that right now.   For the sake of my sanity.. I am blaming the weather.  An excuse that I will let myself believe for 1 more day before cleaning up my attitude. And although professionally I feel like I’m making my way… although lets be honest,  it can never come fast enough! I question my capabilities to keep it going as I find I’m already falling into old habits of Polar Vortex winter Chicago 2013/14! Must snap out of it!   After 3 months and an invitation to come to my brother in law’s birthday to finally meet my family I have heard NO word from the cute boy who made me pancakes. Talking every single day and seeing each other 3 days a week for 3 months to straight up, no reason, no explanation, no fight, no awkward text, no phone call, no warning, nothing… gone.  It’s soooo bizarre I can’t even wrap my head around it.  Seriously?!  I’m at a total loss.  I’d believe him dead if it wasn’t for his ‘Active’ status on Tinder.  … I may have just answered my own question. :/

Facebook shows post after post of engagements, baby showers, new homes, fancy vacations… people moving forward and life happening … and right now for a girl who has such grand visions of her life and her future family those things couldn’t feel farther away.  Owning a cat seems more probable than finding a guy that wants to be around me longer than a couple of months.. yes I said that! I’m wallowing and deserve a day to have a pity party!   I am living at home with my parents, almost 30, dumped for not apparent reason after my longest relationship of a whopping 3 months,  AND it’s cold out.  Life feels a lot like hard-boiled eggs right now. The hardest part of social media is the constant ‘News Feed’ and the ‘TimeLine’ that you want your life to be and the constant reminder that someone has what you want and for some reason that is in no hurry to reveal itself, you don’t get to have that.

Today I went through all my many journals of ups and downs, ups and more downs to discover something important and offered a hair of comfort.  Everything I was asking God to help me through… he did.  Everything I prayed and wished for that never was granted  … I can say AMEN to that because I would not have half the life I have today if it had.  I turn through those pages hoping that in another 5 years I can look back at the pages I wrote today and be glad… and thankful. In the meantime this week it will be me and a bottle of wine.   The good news is that after all of this I don’t have a taste for pancakes.

…. okay that was a lie, I love pancakes….

… damn him and his fancy pancakes.

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How to Kanip an egg

My Easter Post after Easter.. figures.  Kanipping eggs is a Marking family tradition and apparently a made-up family tradition because I have no idea how to spell it, what it means, and Google has zero information on Kanipping so it must be made up 😉 .   Kanipping eggs was taught to my dad and his siblings when they were young and so passed on to us .  Let me be the first to teach you to Kanip.  Before eating any of your Easter Eggs a battle must happen first!

What you need: Hard boiled eggs and at least one other person who will kanipp with you

How you play: 1. Sitting around a table have your hard-boiled eggs and everyone selects an egg.

2. Pick two people to start and you battle the big end against the big end of your opponent. One of the players holds his egg perfectly still and the other player hits his opponent egg.  One of the eggs will crack and the other will remain the champion.

3. Repeat this for the little end with the opposite person holding their egg still and the other hitting their egg.

4. If both sides of the same egg crack you are out of the game and the only way to get back in is to eat your egg and then you can take another to get back in.  The egg that doesn’t crack goes on and competes as the champion egg or you could do it tournament style if you have a bunch of people playing.

5. If only one side cracks and the other side stays strong you are still in the game.  You just start competing an egg with that corresponding egg’s little or big side.  It is okay to compete little to big side or big to little side but only if it is the only side of your egg remaining.  Feel free to add any rules you and your family feel like adding.

Anyone can Kanipp! Enjoy our video below of us teaching Ravyn, Age 7 and Hudson, Age 3 to Kanipp! Starring my cousin Jaclyn, Age 28.

 

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Ravyn with the Champion Egg!

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My Grandma Marking was not only known for her eggs in her fruit salad, but she was a great seamstress and quilter.  She made all of us grandkids unique baby blankets, cloth books and neat dolls.  You would be hard pressed to find anything as unique to her gifts or even remotely compare in your pottery barn kids or Jamboree stores.  Little Ravyn was playing at my aunt’s house during Easter and stumbled among these dolls! What a find!  They are reversible Little Bo Peep and Little Red Riding hood.  Under each skirt is a different doll’s head so that when the skirt flips over it reveals a different character!

Reversible Little Bo Peep and Little Red Riding Hood

Reversible Little Bo Peep and Little Red Riding Hood

 She also found our homemade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls!

Raggedy Ann and Andy

Raggedy Ann and Andy

Although I can’t take credit for this meme …. This about sums up our creative grandma…

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We actually tried and somewhat succeeded in a project from Pinterest.   We used Shaving Cream and food coloring instead of the normal vinegar mix and tablets to dye our Easter Eggs.  It was so fun to mix the colors and then swirl the eggs.  One egg I washed off with water and almost all of the dye went away sooo… here is the trick is to let them set over night to really let the dye sit and then just dry off with a paper towel. Do not Rinse!   I would not wash them until you are ready to put them in the refrigerator to eat.

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Swirl the colors together…

 

2014-04-19 23.19.07Swirl your eggs in the colored shaving cream…

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2014-04-19 23.33.54Wipe off with a paper towel without rinsing…

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I hope that you all a fantastic Easter and enjoyed the warm weather!! FINALLY SPRING IS HERE!

Again, I can’t take credit for this meme but I soo0  thoroughly  enjoyed it that I thought I would share it with you!! To my mom and aunts who don’t know what YOLO means- it translates to You Only Live Once.

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Mexication… don’t forget baby powder

This last week was one of the craziest weeks… Crazy Great.  If you’ve been missing me it’s because after completing my move to WI,  celebrating my birthday, I hopped a plane to Mexico!  It was all to celebrate the wedding of my oldest friend, Amanda, to an amazing guy, Scott.  Going to the wedding and the all-inclusive warm oasis  after a torturous winter was a no brainer.. not to mention I would have regretted missing such an important moment for such a dear friend.

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As this was my first all-inclusive, tropical vacation I didn’t know exactly what it would entail, who I’d be meeting, and what I’d need exactly.  Thankfully my travel buddy, Claire, and I decided that with our powers combined we’d have it all covered….but there were some things we were missing, some things we nailed on the head, and some things that could have stayed at home. More important than having everything you need -it is ideal that you travel with someone who will makes up for your shortcomings and vice versa, someone who isn’t afraid of your sometimes nudist colony behavior (sorry Claire), who are inclusive of others and fun to be around, will let you borrow things you forgot, and will keep track of time (apparently one of my shortcomings- but only in Mexico).  This is a post to help you All-inclusive novices, like myself, be a little more prepared.

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Now obviously there are the essentials- your SPF! Which, truth be told, it is hard to pack enough of it if you are only taking a carry-on.  I typically use enough SPF to fill a  1 qt. bag alone so this was a little tricky.   Don’t stop at 30… make sure to get your 50 on.  You can double up your SPF and save space by making sure your face moisturizer, CC Cremes, and foundation primers have SPF too! Don’t forget your scalp and lips!  Although I am a skin nut who has learned to embrace my pale ass self- I made sure to go tanning before. Protection not vanity.  Believe me it’s worse to get one of those God awful blistering sunburns than to tan a little in a tanning bed.  Besides my freckles you’d hardly notice I had gone for an entire month up to leaving but I didn’t burn- so success! I’m also obsessed with MK toning lotion with caffeine and vitamins to get rid of my cellulite, for real.. it works!  Too bad I couldn’t be that religious about going to the gym before hand.

What you may not think to pack is baby powder!  All I packed to wear were skirts and dresses as I look awful in shorts.  Plus, I love the upside of having instant outfits without much thought.  HOWEVER,  THIGH CHAFING WILL OCCUR!  Unless of course, you are a superhuman woman without touching thighs- no one I know.  I was sooo thankful when I was offered baby powder out of the handbag of a prepared woman- clearly not her first rodeo.  AMEN! Thighs touch away!!

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We were often a sweaty mess… FIVE Make-up life-savers! CC CREME aka Tinted moisturizer with lots of good stuff in it for you.. it’s the perfect coverage, TRANSLUCENT POWDER to help absorb the oil, FINISHING SPRAY which locks in your finished look and will keep your face from melting away, and OIL BLOTTERS to remove the sweat from your upper lip, but not your make-up.  A fun trick if you’re in need of oil blotters but don’t have any:  The paper toilet seat covers in the ladies bathroom are the same material so use those if in a bind! WATERPROOF MASCARA for the ocean.  It won’t matter in the pool because after finding out how many people pee in the water (I know! I was shocked until I broke the seal and had to go 5 times in the span of a couple of hours… you start noticing that NO ONE has left the pool in hours haha. You can judge now, but just wait! )  you won’t put your head under anyhow! Be warned:  None of these product will help with Swass, Swits, or Swoobs, as Kitty and I call them. 😉

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Forget your curling iron.  If you have stick-straight hair like mine- it will be a miracle if you can get any curl to hold even with the strongest hairspray so don’t fight it. Embrace what you got! If you are have long, straight hair like me all you’ll need to  pack your teasing brush, bobby pins and hair spray and you’ll be in good shape. Curly haired friends, I’d imagine some scrunchy mousse stuff…maybe.. I really wouldn’t know.

Forget your beach towels and umbrellas~ they have them there for you! But do remember a beach bag to hull your stuff to the pool and to the beach. They also have a scale for you so you can leave yours at home.   At first I thought this was really mean of them… it is all you can eat afterall! Until I stepped on and I realized that it doesn’t measure in  lbs. and I appeared so much lighter… I pretended it was lbs then! 🙂

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A Bubba Keg!! After baby powder this is the next essential. It will keep all your water and cocktails nice and cold!

At least 2 swimsuits and way more outfits than you think you need.. I wore about two a day…same as undies unless of course, you don’t mind going without.  I was thankful that I overdress by nature because every night was a party in the plaza and nice dinners. I would recommend that you bring some dressier outfits and collared shirts for the boys because some of the restaurants did have a bit of a dress code.

Small bills of $10, $5 and $1 s .. From the minute you get off the plane all you really have to pay for are tips and it may be hard to break your $20’s so come prepared.

We had free wi-fi at the resort so we just kept airplane mode on and we could all FB Message, Skype or Whatsup message each other to find out where everyone was and keep in touch with loved ones back home. Make sure your apps are all set!

I have a hard time drinking all the sweet stuff.. I’m your coffee, whisky, redwine, beer and all things dark kind of drinker but in the sun it just doesn’t cut it.  After trying the Bahama Mamas, the Rumladas, the Pina coladas etc..  my favorite drink became the Iceburg.  It is made of mostly draft beer topped with a little frozen margarita!! 🙂  A beer-rita!   It was perfect to keep me cool, feeling good, but not trashed all day long.  Shots of Tequilla are always a solid choice too.

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Band-aids and anti bacterial… ps if you cut your foot they will use Iodine to disinfect the cut leaving your foot brownish yellow and it will take about 30 minutes to get that and a Band-aid so better just to have it on hand.  Thanks Gregorio for patching me up! 🙂  Other things to bring.. headache medicine, tums, travel diaherra or travel constipation medicine depending which way you tend to go.

Long sleeved shirt so after you stay in the sun too long the first day you can cover up the second day.  A sun hat of any kind! 

A Pen in your purse for your customs form on the air plane. Simple I know, but easily forgotten.

Mini Speakers to jam and blare “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel in your room… again, sorry Claire.

Your patience pills so you don’t kill the people on the plane.  Claire and I had a rough trip home of delays, unhelpful flight attendants, pouring rain, etc and etc and etc… Did you know that I HATE to fly!  No… I mean I really I hate it; the way it smells, the air, the way my tummy feels, the waiting, the take off, the landing,  the crying children and not because they are crying but because I feel like crying and no one cares 😉  At least landing and arriving we were greeted at the resort with champagne- somehow this always helps things.  Unfortunately, no one in Chicago hands you a glass upon stepping on the CTA Blueline when your trip is done to keep you from wanting to pull out your hair.

20140404_135957We should have stayed a couple more days so these stressful and exhausting days were further separated by paradise, cocktails, and sun.  Make sure you go at least 5 days; it is worth every penny!  Note to self: next time…take my Mexi-fling up on his offer to pay for me to stay two more days 😉 .

Most importantly:  make your vacation what you want it to be.  If you work hard all year round and all you want to do is go back to the room early and order an obscene amount of free room service, eat two bites of each and watch the free porn channels (for real- they have those) Do it! If you are an excursion, exploring nut- Do it! If you want a massage everyday- Do it! If you want a bloody mary, grapefruit juice, water, coffee, and a smoothie for your breakfast drinks- Do it! If you want to pee in the pool- Do it! If you want to party it up and meet people from around the world- Do it! If you want a mexi-fling- Do it!

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Just to clarify…This was not my Mexi-fling 😉

The point is…

“What happens in Mexico stays in Mexico” – me

“Unless you have to go to the doctor for it” -Claire   LOL!!… Touche.

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Be Safe and have fun!! I cannot wait for my next All-Inclusive Vacation!!! 🙂 🙂

                                                And Congrats to Scott and Amanda!!! 20140405_162229

 

Moment of Panic

If you are not changing you are not growing and if you are not growing you are dying . ~ me, jumbling up lots of quotes together

Why is it at the end of a relationship, you only seem to remember the good times and you all but forget any of the bad?  You are left feeling like you are making a huge mistake, that you have been wrong in all of your instincts, and that you can’t see it through. Down deep you know it isn’t right, but you still have that breakdown- a moment of panic that you quite possibly will regret this. I have to imagine this is some kind of backwards coping mechanism that is ingrained in us for some good reason beyond my comprehension because in my humble opinion, it would serve more people good if instead, you could only remember the bad.  Seeing as I won’t let myself  get to that point with men,  I hope you know I draw this example from my relationship with my hair.  Having that perfect hair day the day before you chop it off. 😉

Last night on my way back to my cute, welcoming, adorable apartment (see everything is always so good at the end) , I sobbed.  I’m an emotional one, fyi… and why always in the car? Probably gives the mind time to wonder and think and in this case… panic. Thank God people in Chicago are too busy dodging pot holes to notice that I am using my sleeve to wipe up all my snot.

It was like I had sudden amnesia to everything: stepping on a train to discover someone had pooped on it, my hour plus commutes to go 5 miles with HUNDREDS of people EACH way every day, the morning I counted 8 homeless men and women asking for money walking from Monroe St to Wacker Ave, the realization I had grown hard to seeing 8 homeless people in less than a few blocks, my bike being stolen, my house being broken into, my car being broken into, my phone being taken, the awful radio stations, the 36 bus ( which I’ll need to do a posting to tell the stories of the 36!), expensive everything, tax on food, $4.00/hour parking meters and on and on.

Do I think of those things that leave me exhausted and daily longing for an easier life? Of course not. I’m about to chop off my hair, remember?  AKA Move to WI. So instead,  I drove home thinking of my friends at work and how I’ll be hard pressed to find anyone to compare at my next job.  How every man is suddenly cuter than ever before…where were they 6 years ago?!?!  I thought about my MK sister directors and consultants who *sidebar gave me one of those cards where 20 people sign it and leave messages. ~ I’ve heard it said that people’s hand writing actually sends a part of their energy with it to the person receiving the card.  I totally believe this because any time I get one of those cards I cry almost instantly at seeing the many messages- I get very overwhelmed and I’m sure it’s because I’m being filled up with all of that energy. *~   I thought about all my time spent downtown with Kitty and the girls I ‘came up the ropes with’, earning my first MK Car and driving it to get cupcakes,  my Tuesday Artists Women’s group, how easy it is to get a cab, food after 10pm, drinks after 2am, the diversity of people, Andersonville- my neighborhood… I know! now i live in Edgewater, but Andersonville has my heart 😉 ,  my conversations with my shoe doctor and my hairstylist, the chinese place across the street, the wonderful coffees, will I go to Starbucks enough to keep my gold membership? Right CatherineRose?!, brunches, glasses of wine I’ve had with my girlfriends, my amazing roommates and neighbors, the days on the beach with the skyline behind me.  I thought about how this will be the last time I will be in this spot in my life ever again and that is sad and I cried.

Today my family is going to be here after my last shift to help me move.   I sit on my red couch, looking out my sun porch, in my quiet apartment that I have made a home.  It will be the last time I’m in it alone and I will miss this. I feel extremely grateful for the last 6 years. It’s the sad truth that we rarely realize how good things are until they are gone and that where we ‘are’ is a good place to be. On Monday, I’m moving to WI and to continue with my hair cut analogy… will have to leave some of it on the floor  so that the rest of it can grow stronger and even better.  Isn’t that the truth.. you never think it will get better and it always does.

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Sausage Party…my favorite kind

Nothing like eating homemade Italian Sausage pizza for brain fuel to write this post.  Homemade by me- not the pizza, but the sausage! Anyone who knows me or who has seen me hold a knife will tell you that I hardly cook. I know my pink chef’s coat may have you fooled as I definitely looked the part heading into work.

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Don’t get me wrong I have the core essentials foods down: cereal, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, spaghetti, and chicken nuggets .  It is extremely accurate to say that I eat like a 12-year-old at home. You can’t totally blame me as I’ve been in the service industry for 10 years with professional cooks to make me amazing dinners by the touch of a couple of buttons and/or a  flutter of my eyelashes.  This Activity Tuesday I was ready to get my hands dirty with Charlie Eure, Revolution’s Executive Chef, who taught me how to make Italian sausage!

I didn’t know what I was in for as I haven’t so much as fileted a fish and unlike most Wisconsinites, did not grow up with a hunting father.  Revolution gets their pigs from La Pryor Farm in Ottawa, IL and they deconstruct them on site so many a times I have walked into the back to see a boiled pig head about to be used to make headcheese for the charcuterie board, tongues and hearts to make a Valentines Day bruschetta, or sausage being stuffed into casing for an apple and pork sausage.  Needless to say, my curiosity factor almost always out weighs my gross out factor… in most aspects of life … sooo I was really hoping to do some butchering! And we did. As this is not a sausage blog I’m not going to give you every detail but here are some things that I learned…

When making Italian sausage we used the ‘pork butt’.  I would have thought that this comes from the butt of the pig- nope, I was wrong.  The butt is actually called the ham (great… ham being one of my favorite foods-of course it’s the butt!!)  So the ‘pork butt’ is actually on the back and under shoulder.  I used a boning knife to cut around the single bone and a chef’s knife to cut the pork butt into grindable size pieces. Wow, these are what good, sharp knives are like?! I also had to make sure to remove the silver skin (Silver skin is that layer of white, opaque connective tissue. It’s hardly edible, and tough as rubber)  and a couple of glands. Gross.

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Another very important thing I learned is that in order for the meat and fat to get through the grinder it has to be cold.  We iced the grinder and partially froze the meat.  We also made a pan full of ice with salt poured over.  The salt’s purpose is it to decrease the temperature of the ice and actually make it colder-this will in Charlie’s words, ‘expedite the process’.  This will not work with the salt made to melt the ice on the driveway, by the way.

*** Sidebar tip from Charlie and probably the only thing you’ll take away from this posting: if you have warm beers and you pour salt on your cooler’s ice and spin a few beers it, it will be stone cold in no time- much colder than if you just ice alone!

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We then surrounded it with another ice tray and stuck it in the freezer.  The reason for this is pig butt is 30% fat and 70% meat and as the fat goes through the grinder it will get warm and start to melt, the grinder will have a hard time pushing it out and slicing the meat through the holes when this happens.

Next: herbs- what a pain in the butt picking herbs are… I began to lose interest. 😉  We used fresh oregano, thyme, and parsley.

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Chopping herbs- more exciting than picking herbs!  Tamera witnessed my slicing technique and said “oh, you really don’t cook, do you?”   She came over to give me her assistance.  Here is the technique she shared:  She held the front part of the blade down into the cutting board and then was free to slice by raising and dropping the back part of the chef’s knife.  It turns out that I bruised the oregano by chopping so vigorously… this weighs more significant if it was being used as a garish because it turns the herb blackish in color.. since we’re making sausage though- no worries! Thank God! Because I did not want to re-pick it!

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We mixed in all the ingredients and got grinding!! It reminded me of a play-do hair salon. 🙂

We whipped it until it was ‘tacky’

We cooked a sample patty to check for flavor and consistency.

More salt and voilá!

***The most important lesson that I will take with me: Always make sausage where you have someone to wash your dishes for you!

I brought my finished sausage downstairs and Ryan whipped me up an amazing sausage pizza! Making the pizza myself would have been overkill on the cooking; baby steps.  I have found its also important to find a cute guy that likes and is willing to cook-this is an invaluable quality to have. Ryan not only made a great pizza but took my picture with my cheesy grin and first ever homemade sausage!!

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Not going to lie, it tasted amazing and I got to share it with everyone! No one has even gotten sick.   Hurry into Revolution and order something with Italian sausage because it was made with lots of love by me♥- JM!  Do you see my initials- that means I made it!!

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10 Tips For a Great Staycation!

  Photo from TemporaryItems

1. Break away from the normal hustle and bustle! Do the opposite of what you always do-vacate your life if only for a night.  If you always watch tv, have your phone near by, and computer on leave them at home or at least silence them and read a bit.  If you are always reading and studying watch some awful cable or a made for TV movie.

2. Invite only amazing company with you, the kind that you don’t feel like you have to entertain or take care of… those people who you can stare at with nothing to say and you’re not uncomfortable. This will be handy when you don’t feel like talking. Company is not required by any means.

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Meet Robyn! One of my bffs 🙂

3. Practice some of your secret self care.  It’s time to remove the cuticles, pumice your heels,  lotion above the knee,  exfoliate, and pluck those eyebrows. You will feel like a new human being afterwards! They have awesome (and terrifying) lights and a magnifying mirror (also terrifying) – take advantage.

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I’m not even that high maintenance of a girl.. promise!

4. Take a bath~ In my dream house I only want one thing  (that’s a lie: I want about 50, it’s a dream house after all) but one thing above all others I want is an amazing, beautiful bath tub that can cover both my knees and my boobs at the same time!  See, I don’t require much.

5. Wear robes! It makes you feel rich and super important 😉 .

6. Jump on the bed and sleep in the shape of a starfish. King size bed is required.

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See- working on posting double chinned pics!

7. Try something new.  With all the talk of ‘oil pulling’ I brought coconut oil and tried it out. Not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.   If your company is of the ‘lover’ variety, well then,  there is quite an expansive list of new things two could do….and if they’re strictly platonic – you could just try a new nail color or conditioning hair mask like I did- it’s almost the same thing.

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I would wear cozy socks 24/7.

8. Go somewhere you have never been…If you feel like venturing out of the comforts of luxury  to go somewhere make sure to try somewhere new.  Order dessert ‘to go’ so you can enjoy that something sweet while in your robe and cozy socks with a night-cap of wine, favorite whiskey, or a cup of zen tea.

9.  Sleep in~ don’t forget the Do Not Disturb sign so the housekeeping doesn’t wake you.

10. Enjoy your favorite morning routine as slowly as possible.  Treat yourself to a great breakfast- it’s Staycation after all!

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A cloudy day but at great view with my morning coffee!

It’s been a brutally cold polar vortex frozen tundra sub-zero ice land out there for most of us- I’d say we deserve the little R&R of a Staycation!!